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Nazi Oppression Of Sports In The 1936 Summer Olympics

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The 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, Germany was a key moment whereby African American and Jews used sports to politically challenge the Nazi ideology of Aryan supremacy and non-Aryan inferiority. Paul Taylor argues that sports is one of the most powerful weapons in the hands of those suffering under racial prejudice or political oppression. During the 1936 Olympics, Hitler dialed down the anti-Semitic propaganda due to international pressures, but in official Nazi sporting hand books it specifically targeted Jews and African American’s as being physically inferior to the Aryan race as they lacked athletic ability. Also, Nazi theorists like Kurt Munch claimed that Jews and Blacks were feeble athletes and had never achieved any success in athletics. The creator of the Olympic games, Baron Pierre de Coubertin, believed that the Olympic games encouraged people to look beyond the interests they had in common by bringing the best athletes from every country, culture, and race, and giving them a platform where they could earn respect and admiration based on skill and not race, creed, or nationality. Although, African Americans and Jews did not voice their political beliefs they used their athletic skill and would have acquired praise from Coubertin because they directly challenged Hitler’s ideology that non-Aryan’s were inferior. Jessie Owens, who was a famous African American sprinter, fought back against Hitler’s racial stereotypes of Blacks by winning four gold medals
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